Welcome to the 2011 CraveOnline Hype Awards! We have been gone for a few years but now we are back! With so many stories competing for your attention every day, we decided to look at the stories most and least deserving of you attention. Here you’ll find our picks for the year’s most over and under-hyped stories in our Film, TV, Music, Comics, Gaming and Sports channels.
Film Channel Editor – William Bibbiani
MOST HYPED MOVIE – Sucker Punch
It was a narrow call this year, since a lot highly anticipated films let us down over the course of 2011. Green Lantern broke the winning streak of Hollywood’s superhero blockbusters with its clunky plotting, and Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol was a big let down compared to Brad Bird’s animation work, at least. But Sucker Punch is in a league of its own. The film promised us the unfettered big budget id of Zack Snyder, the pseudo-wunderkind who brought us 300 and The Watchmen, but it was so abysmally conceived and afraid of its own sexual themes that the experience felt like watching a creepy, hyperactive 10-year-old play with his action figures for two hours. The only thing we got out of Sucker Punch was a disturbing premonition that Snyder’s upcoming Man of Steel reboot is going to suck.
It should have been Amber Heard’s year. She had starring roles in Drive Angry, the enormously entertaining whackjob of a movie starring Nicolas Cage as an escaped prisoner from Hell, and The Ward, John Carpenter’s impressively spooky return to feature filmmaking which featured Heard as heroic inmate at a haunted asylum. But Drive Angry fizzled at the box office – making studios question the value of 3D – and The Ward barely got released at all, with a simultaneous Video on Demand debut implying that it wasn’t worth your time at the theater. That neither film found an audience is a damned shame. Drive Angry is one of the most purely entertaining films of the year and The Ward is the best old-fashioned ghost story in I can’t remember how long.
TV Channel – Blair Marnell
MOST HYPED TV SERIES – Terra Nova
On paper, "Terra Nova" had everything you could possibly want in a blockbuster TV series. Dinosaurs! Action! Steven Spielberg Producing! The bad guy from "Avatar"! And the biggest budget of all time for any TV pilot, rumored to be about $30 million. Yet somehow, it still managed to go horribly wrong.
In retrospect, the abrupt release of the show's writers as a cost savings measure and the seemingly endless delays should have been the ultimate warning that something rotten was happening in Queensland, Australia. Fox heavily marketed "Terra Nova" as if it was the sci-fi/action series that was going to be the next "Lost." The premise of humanity escaping from a barren future into a prehistoric paradise was ripe with potential… that was quickly wasted on lackluster scripts, a group of miscast actors and a drama that had so little edge that it couldn't even cut jello. Consequently, audiences have largely failed to embrace "Terra Nova" and it will be very surprising if it gets a second season.
Only Stephen Lang gets to walk away from this one with his reputation intact. Everyone else should hang their heads in shame.
Prior to "American Horror Story," FX had a habit of creating great dramas that very few people watched. Such was the case with "Lights Out," a gripping boxing drama about Patrick "Lights" Leary, a former heavyweight champion who is forced to stage a comeback after his finances collapse and the IRS seizes his income. As portrayed by Holt McCallany, Lights was a good family man who made morally questionable and even illegal actions on his desperate journey to reclaim the championship belt he lost years ago. And Lights paid a heavy penance as he battled the onset of pugilistic dementia along the way.
Despite the lack of a second season (or an audience to appreciate it), "Lights Out" wrapped up the story so well in its 13th episode that it stands as a completed work that should rightfully be regarding as a classic.
Similarly, "The Chicago Code" also wrapped up its one and only season with a tightly paced story that came to a satisfying conclusion. Veterans of "The Shield" and "Terriers" teamed up to bring a cable quality drama to Fox, starring Jason Clarke as an unorthodox Chicago Police Detective, Jarek Wysocki, with Jennifer Beals as Teresa Colvin, the Police Superintendent and Delroy Lindo, who gave an electrifying performance as a corrupt Alderman, Roland Gibbons.
Although "The Chicago Code" couldn't rely on the language and adult content commonly found on cable, it did offer a refreshing look at the personal price that both Wysocki and Colvin paid to do their jobs and maintain their integrity in a city that is notorious for graft and corruption. Even up to the last moments of the finale, their eventual triumph over Gibbons was far from inevitable and the battle for Chicago's soul will continue despite a well crafted ending.
Neither "Lights Out" or "The Chicago Code" received the second seasons that they deserved. But that's the thing about TV. Sometimes the quality shows can take your breath away. And sometimes they break your heart.
Comic Channel Editor – Andy Hunsaker
MOST HYPED – DC's New 52
DC Comics had trailed Marvel for so long that they had to make an extremely bold maneuver – one DC honcho Dan DiDio has been angling for for years. Divesting themselves of over 70 years of continuity to relaunch every single title they publish with new #1 issues and brand new character histories was highly daring for a company that used to pride itself on its rich history, but in the short term, it worked magnificently, blowing Marvel out of the water. They were all over the mainstream news outlets hyping this change-up into the "DCnU" (internet short hand for the New DC Universe), and they even had TV commercials advertising their comics. Of course, they also got some bad press on their obnoxiously sexual takes on Catwoman and Starfire (and you have to get particularly awful to draw complaints about that bluntly free-love Teen Titan). Will this gamble pay off long term? Well, it started in September, so that has yet to be seen, but there are signs Marvel's back in the hunt… and given the fact that a good chunk of the New 52 seems to be trying to appropriate Marvel's general aesthetic of heroes being distrusted by the general public, there's a good chance it could be just another fleeting stunt.
RUNNER UP: Fear Itself – Marvel's giant summer event that turned out to be surprisingly dull.
Least Hyped – The Green River Killer
Anybody who even remotely touches on the world of serial killers has heard of the Green River Killer, the 80s boogie man that terrorized the Seattle area. In 1990 the case put into the hands of one officer, Tom Jensen. This graphic novel is the story of that case as told by Jensen’s son Jeff. Brutal without ever becoming exploitative, the Green River Killer is more the story of a father put under incredible pressures but the grim tone and incredible art also speak to the horror of the crimes. The Green River Killer has one of the greatest openings in recent memory, utterly terrifying and keeps you hooked into the book. Jensen weaves the past and present together with ease and the book never gets confusing. Jonathon Case’s black and white art is the perfect stark design for The Green River Killer. Telling this story without feeding into our lowest common denominator of blood lust is difficult but Jeff Jensen pulls it off. I was surprised more people didn’t vibe on The Green River Killer. Hopefully with this reminder they will.
RUNNER UP: "Mr. Wonderful: A Love Story" by Daniel Clowes is a simple story about a 40-year-old cynic analyzing his life over the course of a blind date, but it's a brilliant slice of life that cuts through the paper illusions we try to pass off as real and buckles down to what truly feeds our souls. It needs a lot more attention lavished upon it.
Gaming Channel Editor – Erik Norris
Most Hyped – Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3
Call of Duty 3: Modern Warfare 3 set the all-time gross record for a piece of entertainment in its first 24 hours of release. The game also raked in $1 billion faster than James Cameron’s Avatar, reaching the prestigious mark in just 16 days of being on shelves. And guess what: Modern Warfare 3 is essentially the same game we’ve been playing since 2007’s Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare. Sure, Modern Warfare 3 has new multiplayer maps, weapons, a few new game types and a new, high-octane story, but under all that cosmetic freshness lies the same fundamental nuts and bolts that we’ve been playing for five years now.
And yet, we still managed to be suckered into throwing down $60 a pop at Activision for the latest gaming “hotness.” The Call of Duty franchise might be a marketing juggernaut, but until Activision does something completely original with the property, it’s time to stop falling for the hype like lambs to the slaughter.
Least Hyped – Rayman: Origins
It’s no secret that 2011 has been an absolutely ridiculous year for AAA gaming releases. But amidst the launch of Uncharted 3, Battlefield 3, Gears of War 3, Modern Warfare 3 and Assassin’s Creed: Revelations, one little game released by Ubisoft that deserves your undivided attention: Rayman: Origins. Developed by Ubisoft Montpellier, Rayman: Origins returns the Rayman series to its side-scrolling roots with 4-player cooperative play support and one of the most gorgeous, hand-drawn graphics engines found in all of gaming. Sadly, we missed the opportunity to review this game and heap praise upon it since we were too busy covering the unrelenting avalanche of “3s” releasing. That’s why we’re giving Rayman: Origins its due right here, right now. This vastly under-hyped game deserves your appreciation.
Sports Channel Editor – Nash Herrington
Most Hyped: The Miami Triad
My constant desire to be original will unfortunately not be satisfied in this segment.
“I’m gonna take my talents to South Beach” has become one of the single most recognizable quotes in all of sports. You don’t even have to be a sports fan; you know that quote. On July 9, 2010, LeBron James of the Cleveland Cavaliers announced on an ESPN special named simply, The Decision, that he would be leaving the Cavs to join the Miami Heat for the 2010-2011 season. He would quickly be joined by Toronto Raptors big man Chris Bosh and fly south to team up with the always outstanding Dwayne Wade. Parades ran through the streets of Miami, and promises of multiple championships swept through the nation.
I do realize that this all happened last year, but what did happen THIS year was our first opportunity to see results. As promised the “Heatles” made it to the NBA Finals. It seemed that the storybook ending to their first season together would end happily ever after. Then they got dominated by Dirk Nowitzki and the Dallas Mavericks. Yes, the Finals went to six games, but the Heat never played in the 4th quarter and the Mavs looked like champions every step of the way.
The Miami Triad: Immeasurably High Hype – Lame Ass Reward
Least hyped: The Rat Pack
Oh those crooners from days past. Loved by all, hypnotically serenading every listener. Much like those icons from the 60’s, the Green Bay Packers are a team full of untouchables. Well, almost… But I’ll get to that in a second. Not only did they win the Super Bowl in February, but they continued to win and win and win. 13 more times to be exact.
Now I understand that the Pack lost to my Kansas City Chiefs in week 15. (Well done fellas) But they continue to be the most dominate team in the NFL this season. The crazy thing is, NO ONE EVER TALKS ABOUT THEM! The Packers come up on sports shows from time to time, but with Tim Tebow hogging the headlines and so many teams on the bubble for the playoffs, the Packers have basically flew under the radar all year long.
Only the football gods know how the rest of the season will unfold, but for a team that is rarely talked about, the defending super bowl Champion Green Bay Packers are prime for a repeat.
Music Channel Editor – Johnny Firecloud
Most Hyped – Metallica & Lou Reed – 'Lulu'
Despite the oceans of hype and industry foaming, there is no escaping what the Metallica & Lou Reed collaborative album Lulu truly is: the single worst mash-up record ever made. It is, without question, the greatest musical dud of 2011 on this side of Limp Bizkit's new record.
Least Hyped – Mariachi El Bronx – 'El Bronx II'
It would be an understatement to use the word "uncommon" to describe a pulverizing rock band shifting stylistic gears with such extremity – or such success. The flipside personas to the Los Angeles hardcore demons The Bronx return with El Bronx II, doubling down in both depth and versatility while the explosive undercurrent that’s closer to the band’s original sound threatens to shake loose at any given moment.
It’s a dangerously enticing flirtation with the punk aesthetic, and veers across the thin line between tribute and all-out immersion with a flourish of style, skill and power. Check out the lead single from El Bronx II, a tale of a man-whore's laments called "48 Roses":
If you missed it the first time around, here's your chance to get on board with the best Los Angeles export in recent memory.
Thanks for everyone who visits the site and we will see you next year for the 2012 CraveOnline Hype Awards!